• WisBusiness

Friday, September 26, 2014

MaryBeth Matzek: Ruling puts high-capacity wells under greater scrutiny


By MaryBeth Matzek
Farmers, businesses and municipalities looking to drill high-capacity wells will face additional scrutiny following a recent judicial decision.

Earlier this month, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey D. Boldt ruled the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources needs to consider the "cumulative impact" of any proposed high-capacity wells before granting approval. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed after the DNR approved Richfield Dairy's application for two wells to provide the dairy with about 72.5 million gallons of water annually. A group of Adams County residents concerned about falling lake levels filed the suit against the DNR saying the state agency didn't take into account the area's other wells and their cumulative effect on the region's groundwater and surface water when issuing the approval.

"This ruling isn't just about agriculture. It's about the availability of groundwater and that it's not some unlimited resource," says attorney Carl Sinderbrand, who represented the residents of nearby Pleasant Lake in the lawsuit. "It's now up to the DNR to carefully balance the different needs of agriculture, municipalities and tourism."

There's a lot of competition for water and now all users will have to go through a more thorough review process before their high-capacity wells are approved, Sinderbrand says. In Wisconsin, according to the DNR, 250 billion gallons of groundwater were pumped in 2013. Of that total, large dairies use only 0.5 percent. The highest users of groundwater are agricultural irrigation (41 percent) and municipal public water (37 percent).

So while the original case may have been against a large dairy, the decision will have wide- ranging impact on all groundwater users, including farmers who use it for irrigation and cities and town who use it for drinking water, says George Kraft, a water resources professor and director of the Center for Watershed Science and Education with the University of Wisconsin- Extension UW-Stevens Point's College of Natural Resources.

"This ruling has far-reaching impacts. It's not just about large dairies," he said.

Before anyone wants to drill a high-capacity well, the DNR will need to look at the impact of not only that well, but all of the other wells in the area, too, Kraft says. "The DNR has a big job ahead of it. What will they do about large current users? What about new users that want to come in?" he says.

From 2007 to 2013, dairy farms accounted for just 9 percent of requests in Wisconsin for high- capacity wells, according to DNR data.

"Other industries and municipal governments, which make up the majority of new well builders, will be affected by this decision far more than dairy farms," she says.

Tamas Houlihan, communications director for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, said the ruling is causing a lot of concern among farmers, but they won't be the only ones affected.

"For any farmer, golf course owner, municipality or industry in Wisconsin who needs a new high-capacity well, this decision leaves them with no identifiable framework for the well review and approval process," he said. "Most alarming to Wisconsin farmers is that this decision fundamentally changes the high-capacity well approval process in Wisconsin without any public input. Accordingly, our farmers look to the Wisconsin Legislature to ask for that public input and to develop a defined, understandable, workable high-capacity well permitting process for Wisconsin."

David Crass, an attorney with Michael Best who represented the dairy in the case, says everyone is waiting to see what the DNR – who hasn't commented publicly on the case yet -- will do next.

"While the ruling applied only to this case, we all know that the DNR will apply it to all permits for high-capacity wells going forward, whether it's a golf course, a cheese plant, another dairy, a municipality," he says. "But any business or municipality with a high-capacity well is going to be looking at this case carefully and following it."

Unique collaboration

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is teaming up with Appleton- based ThedaCare for an onsite training center at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, which is currently under construction. The collaboration is the first-of-its-kind in Wisconsin and the new hospital will include a 5,000-square foot learning center is being constructed within the larger medical center to house both classroom and laboratory teaching equipment.

The move will alleviate a space crunch at NWTC's facility in Shawano by moving its nursing programs over to the new hospital while also providing students with plenty of real world experience.

Hospital CEO Dorothy Erdmann says she hopes the students being trained at the new hospital may one day work there, allowing the community to "grow its own" healthcare employees.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

Labels:


Comments: 1

At March 30, 2017 at 5:16 AM, Blogger kelinci said...

Great post & useful. Thanks
Jual Kelinci
Kelinci
Jual Kelinci
Perkelincian
Kelinci Jual

 

Post a Comment

Back to BizOpinion main page

: See newer blog items : : See older blog items :

BizOpinion site feed
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

wisbusiness.com Social News

Follow Us

Site Sponsors

ARCHIVE

· January 2009
· February 2009
· March 2009
· April 2009
· May 2009
· June 2009
· July 2009
· August 2009
· September 2009
· October 2009
· November 2009
· December 2009
· January 2010
· February 2010
· March 2010
· April 2010
· May 2010
· June 2010
· July 2010
· August 2010
· September 2010
· October 2010
· November 2010
· December 2010
· January 2011
· February 2011
· March 2011
· April 2011
· May 2011
· June 2011
· July 2011
· August 2011
· September 2011
· October 2011
· November 2011
· December 2011
· January 2012
· February 2012
· March 2012
· April 2012
· May 2012
· June 2012
· July 2012
· August 2012
· September 2012
· October 2012
· November 2012
· December 2012
· January 2013
· February 2013
· March 2013
· April 2013
· May 2013
· June 2013
· July 2013
· August 2013
· September 2013
· October 2013
· November 2013
· December 2013
· January 2014
· February 2014
· March 2014
· April 2014
· May 2014
· June 2014
· July 2014
· August 2014
· September 2014
· October 2014
· November 2014
· December 2014
· January 2015
· February 2015
· March 2015
· April 2015
· May 2015
· June 2015
· July 2015
· August 2015
· September 2015
· October 2015
· November 2015
· December 2015
· January 2016
· February 2016
· March 2016
· April 2016
· May 2016
· July 2016
· August 2016
· October 2016
· December 2016
Copyright ©2013 WisBusiness.com All rights reserved. | WisOpinion.com | WisPolitics.com  |  Website development by wisnet.com LLC  | Website design by Makin’ Hey Communications